There are 800 billion videos on YouTube—it’s hard to stand out. But YouTube SEO increases the visibility of your videos, attracts more viewers by surfacing your videos in search results, and helps YouTube understand what is in your videos.
The best results come when you plan your YouTube SEO strategy before you press Record. Optimizing your videos from inception with a keyword plan helps you create video content people are searching for. This foundation sets you up to gain relevant, targeted traffic for months and years to come.
Choosing the right keywords and using them in the right places at the right time can grow your YouTube channel, views, and engagement.
What is YouTube SEO and why is it important?
YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing videos through keyword research so your video content shows up in relevant search results. Optimizing your videos for specific, highly targeted keywords expands reach and helps you grow organically. For example, if your video is about the best cooking skillets, you want people who are searching for that phrase to easily find it./p>
YouTube is the largest video platform and is often used as a search engine alongside Google. And, because video is a favorite content format for many consumers, increasing viewership can lead to more brand engagement, trust, and loyalty.
SEO for YouTube: Creating your keyword plan
That’s why a keyword plan is the foundation of a profitable YouTube channel. It helps you create content people are looking for and that will rank well in YouTube search. You can start your overall content strategy by identifying themes and potential topics, which you can then narrow down into individual video ideas to find relevant keywords.
To start, keep a running list of the ideas you find in a spreadsheet. For example, if you’ve identified “dog outfits” as one of your key themes, jot down all the potential videos you can create under that umbrella term. This might include things like “how to style your dog” or “the best dog onesies”.
Here are other ways you can discover relevant keywords:
- Use a keyword tool to find high-volume keywords that match your topic (we’ve listed some options further down).
- Research your competition to find what keywords other similar videos are optimized for.
- Check out YouTube’s autosuggest to find long-tail keywords related to your chosen topics.
9 YouTube SEO tips and techniques for 2023
Once you have your keyword plan in place, use these YouTube SEO tips to optimize your videos.
1. Naturally insert the keyword into your video title
Include your keyword (naturally!) in the title so that both viewers and YouTube know what it’s about. Maximize your YouTube search engine optimization efforts here by incorporating the keyword at the beginning of the title and making sure your title is long enough to avoid keyword stuffing.
2. Rename your video file to include your keyword
We’re all guilty of uploading images with file names like IMG_231, but this is a great opportunity to further establish to YouTube what your video is about. It’s such a simple tip, but renaming your file names to include your keyword can give your video an SEO boost.
Top tip: Use dashes or underscores to separate words, so “best dog onesies” becomes “best_dog_onesies.”
3. Use the main keyword in your YouTube video descriptions
Your YouTube video description is prime real estate for exploring the topic further, providing a sneak peek into the video’s content, and strategic keyword insertion. Similarly to your video title, include your keyword as early as you can in the description without it feeling forced. This reassures both YouTube and your viewers about the subject of your video.
Top tips: Include your keyword within the first 25 words, make sure your description is at least 250 words, and naturally drop in your keyword two to three times.
4. Assign tags to your YouTube videos
Tags indicate to YouTube what your videos are about. They’re essentially a list of relevant keywords that describe your video content and help people searching for those terms to find them. Get inspiration by researching what tags other accounts are using to describe similar YouTube videos.
5. Encourage viewers to watch the whole video
YouTube likes it when people spend a long time on the site. In fact, watch time is one of the platform’s top metrics, and YouTube has spoken out about its preference for serving videos with longer watch times in the search results. Increase watch time by creating engaging intros, providing as much value as possible, and making use of YouTube’s “cards” feature to encourage people to interact with what they’re watching.
6. Say your target keyword out loud in your YouTube videos
YouTube now transcribes videos pretty accurately. If you say your keyword, it’s going to “hear” that as it transcribes so it’ll have a better understanding of what your video is about. Chances are, you’re going to be saying the keyword anyway, but make a point of saying it clearly and early on.
7. Choose the most relevant YouTube video categories
Once your video is on YouTube you can assign it to a number of categories. This is an excellent way of indicating what your content is about and grouping it with similar videos on the platform. Choose categories that align best with the content to make sure you’re showing up in relevant playlists and gaining highly target views.
8. Add targeted hashtags to your YouTube videos
Hashtags are a new addition to YouTube that let you indicate what your content’s about while grouping it together with similar videos. Related hashtags show up above your video title for easy discoverability.
9. Create playlists to group together similar video topic
As your YouTube channel expands, you can start grouping together videos about similar topics into easily accessible playlists. This helps viewers find the content they’re interested in (and encourages them to stick around for longer) and it creates a topic ecosystem around your videos that indicates what your content is about and pushes it up the YouTube search results.
3 great YouTube SEO tools
Ready to get started? Here are some YouTube SEO tools that help you find the right keywords to target.
1. Keywords Everywhere
Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome extension and Firefox plug-in that suggests high-volume keywords from the YouTube search bar. Simply type in a word or phrase you want to target, and Keywords Everywhere will display the monthly search volume, competition, and cost per click for Google ads.
TubeBuddy is a browser extension that fills the sidebar in the YouTube search results with an in-depth keyword analysis. Instead of leaving you to interpret the numbers, TubeBuddy suggests keywords that have a good combination of search volume and competitiveness.
Ahrefs is a comprehensive keyword tool that can be used for both video and text content. It’s best for creating a list of potential keywords to target—all you have to do is enter a broad topic into the Keywords Explorer feature to get thousands of relevant ideas in seconds.
Improve YouTube video ranking for your business
Creating videos for YouTube is not particularly fast or easy, but it is a content format consumers love and only a handful of your competitors are investing in.
To make the most of it, come up with a keyword plan to drive video ideas and optimize your uploads by sprinkling keywords in the video title, description, tags, hashtags, and even the file name. Doing this will help YouTube understand what your content is about and expand your reach to new audiences.
YouTube SEO FAQ
How do you do SEO for YouTube videos?
Video SEO involves creating a keyword plan to increase visibility of your videos in search results. Make a keyword plan and sprinkle the keywords throughout your video copy, including in the video title, description, file name, and tags.
What exactly are the YouTube ranking factors?
- Total number of views
- Watch time
- Subscriber count
- Video quality
- Relevance of the video to the search term
- YouTube channel authority
What SEO tools are good for YouTube SEO?
- Keywords Everywhere, to find high-volume, relevant keywords
- TubeBuddy, to analyze potential keywords
- Ahrefs, to generate thousands of keyword suggestions
How do you rank YouTube videos on the first page of Google?
Optimize your video for search results by conducting in-depth keyword research and populating your video titles and descriptions with the relevant keywords. Ensure your video meets YouTube’s ranking factors by maximizing watch time, increasing view count, and building your YouTube channel authority.
How long do YouTube videos take to rank?
The first 48 to 72 hours are crucial to the success of a video on YouTube. But it can take anywhere from three to six months before your video starts ranking for the keywords you want.